Cleaning Products Overview

Most people depend on conventional cleaning products to keep their homes clean and comfortable. They may be surprised to learn that the very products they have been using to keep their homes clean can be harmful to their health, pets and the environment. Several cleaning products contain toxic chemicals linked to health effects such as asthma, cancer, reproductive harm and liver, kidney and nervous system damage. In most cases, cleaning products containing harsh chemicals are not necessary to keep homes clean. Safer alternatives are readily available.

What can you do?

Reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals

  • Effectively pick up dirt without the need for chemicals by using microfiber cloth to clean
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate your home while cleaning 
  • Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin and wash your hands regularly when handling chemicals
  • Avoid using antibacterial and antimicrobial soap
  • Never mix two cleaners together, especially if the products contain ammonia or chlorine

Read labels first

Identify the least corrosive options by reading labels and packaging.

  • Ammonia: can cause respiratory disease, liver and kidney toxicity, reproductive harm and central nervous disorders
  • Chlorine bleach: can trigger asthma, can damage skin, eye and other membranes
  • Quaternary ammonium disinfectants "Quats:  can cause asthma, contact dermatitis
  • 2-butoxyethanol: linked to liver and kidney toxicity, blood disorders, infertility and developmental harm
  • Monoethanolamine: can trigger asthma, can cause tissue damage and shortness of breath

Avoid using products that claim to disinfect while also cleaning

  • Disinfectants such as bleach and quaternary ammonium compounds contain pesticides and cause varying health impacts.

Use safer products

Minimize using several products

Choose all purpose cleaners, that have the benefit of cleaning several areas in one product. Separate products to clean windows, countertops, floors, bathrooms and kitchens are often unnecessary, increase potential hazards and are an added cost.

Use safe practices

  • Carefully follow directions, regardless of which products you choose. 
  • Properly store cleaning products and dispose of extra products.
  • Clean out your closets of old toxic clealing chemicals by calling for a free home pick up or drop off at the Hazardous Waste Facility

Additional Information for Cleaning Products Overview

Safer Products Project
Clean Production Action's site created to generate public support for safe chemicals.
WVE Cleaning Product Test Results
Women's Voices for the Earth toxicity results from testing common cleaning products.
How to read cleaning product labels
SFE guide to reading consumer labels and packaging.